‘Wellness influencers’ are responsible for peddling dangerous conspiracy theories around 5G and coronavirus, according to reports.
Influencers such as Pete Evans have shifted towards spreading conspiracy theories about 5G and COVID-19 a report by ABC News found.
Other wellness pages have posted bizarre and unfounded stories linking Bill Gates to 5G and the coronavirus, The Guardian reported.
Conspiracy theories around 5G have seen phone masts set on fire in the UK this year.
Former celebrity chef Evans has posted dozens of bizarre theories about COVID-19, writing: “Perhaps a virus spread a thousand lies and opened millions of eyes?”
Previous research suggested that influencers and public figures had a disproportionate role in spreading theories around 5G and the coronavirus.
A study by Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that while politicians, celebrities and other prominent public figures were responsible for producing or spreading 20% of false claims about coronavirus, their posts accounted for 69% of total social media engagement.
The pandemic has seen a strange overlap between alt-right, conspiracy theorist and parts of the wellness community, according to Australian writer Brigid Delaney.
Delaney wrote in The Guardian: “The messages of the different groups are remarkably the same: the virus is a cover for a plot of totalitarian proportions, designed to stifle freedom of movement, assembly, speech and – to the horror of some in the wellness industry – enforce a program of mass vaccinations.”
Writing on The Conversation, four academics highlighted how 5G and COVID-19 conspiracy theories were creating links across different conspiracy theory groups.
Marc Tuters, assistant professor of new media and digital culture at the University of Amsterdam, and Peter Knight, professor of American studies at the University of Manchester, wrote: “On the one hand, they attract the far-right who see them as part of a technological assault by big government on the freedom of individuals.
”On the other, they appeal to the well established anti-vaxxer community, who are often allied with those distrustful of Big Pharma.”
The researchers added: “In countries like Germany, anti-lockdown issues appear to be creating connections across the political spectrum, led by social media influencers who are working to connect the dots between previously separate conspiracy theory communities or tribes.”
Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, said earlier this year that 5G conspiracy idea was fake news with no scientific backing, and that it risked damaging the emergency response to the outbreak.
“The 5G story is complete and utter rubbish, it’s nonsense, it’s the worst kind of fake news,” Powis said. “The reality is that the mobile phone networks are absolutely critical to all of us.
“Those are also the phone networks that are used by our emergency services and our health workers and I’m absolutely outraged, absolutely disgusted that people would be taking action against the very infrastructure that we need to respond to this health emergency.”
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